Rodger Nishioka, associate professor of Christian Education at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, is “winsome with a bite,” according to his introduction from Presbyterian Publishing Corporation’s Laura Cheifetz.
This is the century of apostleship, meaning “those sent out,” Nishioka told participants July 31 at the Big Tent 2015 meeting in Knoxville. Therefore, he said, Presbyterians must understand how to equip leaders for discipleship and evangelism. To do so, he used an acronym, stating “Discipleship must be EPIC,” giving these explanations:
Experience: Disciples experience God through the senses.
- Try this: Bake a loaf of frozen bread on communion Sundays. When congregants are in late stage dementia, they will smell baking bread and remember their identity as a child of God.
Participation: People are yearning to participate in the reign of God in some way.
- Consider this: A recent story of a mailman in Utah tells of a child who wanted to read so badly he asked for junk mail to read. Instead, the mailman organized a participatory effort to collect books to give this boy his own home library.
Imagistic: Society has shifted from a culture of the page to the culture of the screen.
- Think about this: Corporations are no longer asking for mission statements; they are asking for mission visions that communicate their corporate identity. Broad Street Presbyterian Church in Columbus, Ohio, features large images in the church narthex. When visitors enter, they quickly understand what the church is all about.
Communal: People now yearn for community desperately.
- Practice this: Ralph Watkins, associate professor of evangelism and church growth, has found that church visitors’ greatest need is someone to talk to them. Greeters often don’t do this well enough (and often are talking to each other). Instead, if someone turns and talks to a visitor in worship, the “warmth factor” increases, and the visitor has a more meaningful experience.